By Muhammad Muzdaleefa
Being a student of diplomatic history, I have been following the poverty eradication campaign in China for years. It is a shame that Western media have decided to bash it as Chinese propaganda instead of looking at the take away lessons that can be applied globally with necessary adjustments for sustainable growth and development.
The way China has been going through this issue is very methodical and practical. They have a clear standard of living which they are working hard to ensure it is universally achieved. In other words, they create a world where everyone has a smooth path to realize their dreams and ensure no one is left behind. This is very different from the competitive capitalist system practiced in the West where everyone is obsessed with being ahead of the other.
The Chinese have used very simple ideas. These include the following;
- Housing – The Chinese model is ensuring everyone has adequate and decent housing. Those with poor housing have had their houses reconstructed or relocated to new houses.
- Income – The Chinese have ensured everyone has a sustained income source that elevates them above the poverty line. This has been through implementation of various income generating projects based on local needs and environment.
In one example, some farmlands where farming was ecologically harmful were turned into a forest. The former farmers were then employed as forest guards. Another example is where some villages were helped to establish solar power plants from which they earn incomes.
- Education – The Chinese model states that education is the best way to stop transmission of generational poverty. As a result they have implemented a system which has resulted in zero school dropout cases. Some 8 million youths who had dropped out of school at various levels have been taken through vocational training.
- Health – Unhealthy people can’t fight poverty. They are people who are consigned to poverty due to treatable health issues. China has worked to ensure affordable healthcare in order to ensure that no person falls back to poverty dues to illness. The response of the Chinese government sequel to the outbreak of Coronavirus pandemic was admired throughout the world.
To achieve the above the following foundational issues are critical;
- Household targeted poverty eradication – a census of poor people was conducted which identified every household defined as poor. This bottom up approach is key because you cannot eradicate poverty until every household has been lifted from poverty. The household is the epicentre of poverty.
- Planning and involving people – after the poor are identified, detailed planning is undertaken and the people are involved in coming up with solutions to eradicate poverty.
- Clear goals – the officials are expected to come up with practical goals and realistic timelines. In one case where officials had set lofty and unrealistic targets President Xi Jinping emphasized that for the battle against poverty to be won there should be no procrastination or impatience.
- Measurement and independent evaluation – countries that claim to have eradicated poverty have to apply for removal from a list of countries that still have people living in poverty. Such an application is followed by independent verification. Evaluators are sent to verify the claims and they are supposed to visit each household without being accompanied by the village officials. Countries that fail to pass the evaluation have to continue with poverty eradication work.
In conclusion, eradicating poverty is not rocket science. Simple, practical and realistic steps are needed. Most importantly, a visionary, selfless and committed leadership must be in place for this to work effectively. 2023 is a good opportunity for Nigerians to elect capable, dependable and reliable leaders that will not only address the critical needs of Nigerians but will put the country on the path of sustainable growth and development for the contemporary generation and posterity.